E. Coli is back in the news after eight people were hospitalized in France with the same deadly strain (O104:H4) that killed 46 people in Germany and sickened 4,000 a few weeks back. Unsurprisingly, sprouts were named as the culprit. Seven of the newly infected had attended an open house at a children’s recreation center in Bègles, France, where they ate gazpacho with sprouts on top. Two of the victims remain in intensive care.
The contaminated seeds appear to have come from the UK company Thompson & Morgan, which reportedly bought them from an Italian supplier, but tests are ongoing. Authorities are cautious of assigning blame to specific sources after many farmers experienced substantial monetary losses as a result of speculation during the German outbreak. Spanish farmers alone lost over $200 million per week when authorities thought cucumbers were to blame. British officials have released a warning against eating raw sprouts despite evidence that the outbreak in France appears to be isolated. France has banned the sale of fenugreek, arugula and mustard seeds from Thompson & Morgan.